If your business uses VoIP softphones, you’ll want to make sure that the headsets you buy are compatible. The headset you used to connect to your corded landline phone probably isn’t going to fit the bill.
Here, you’ll find information on the ins and outs of softphone headset compatibility. We’ll give you some background information, an overview of compatible VoIP headsets, and a few recommendations for softphone-compatible devices that you can find right here at Headsets.com.
What is VoIP?
The term VoIP references a type of technology that can be used by devices and software programs - not the devices and software programs themselves. The acronym stands for Voice over Internet Protocol. You might also hear it referred to as “Voice over IP.” VoIP systems allow you to make calls using your internet connection rather than a phone signal (like the phone signal your cell phone or landline uses). You can either use the computer to make VoIP calls, like with RingCentral, Bria, or Microsoft Teams, or you can get a physical VoIP phone, but we will focus on the computer software in this article.
VoIP technology digitizes the way that information gets from one end of a call to the other. Because of this, you’ll probably notice some differences between a VoIP call and a traditional phone call. These distinctions include:
Clearer sound: As long as everyone on the call has a strong internet connection, you’ll probably be hearing each other even clearer using VoIP service than you would when using a traditional desk phone.
Lower phone bill: A VoIP phone plan tends to cost far less than a regular phone plan. It’s pretty common for users to cut their phone bill in half when they switch to VoIP! You’ll also be paying far less to make international calls.
Mobility: You can’t take your normal desk phone with you wherever you go, but most VoIP devices allow for portability. Since the majority of VoIP communication takes place via software, you can have your “desk phone” accessible anywhere using an application for your smartphone, computer, and/or tablet.
- More bells and whistles: The standard functionality of a VoIP phone is usually more advanced than that of a regular office phone. You can find all kinds of features, from an automated receptionist to automatic call quality tracking. And when paired with a webcam you often can use video conferencing features!
You can purchase a VoIP phone or download VoIP-enabled apps, but Voice over Internet Protocol itself is a technology, not a device.
What is a softphone?
A softphone is the software that you use to make a call using an internet connection. It has the functionality of a phone without a physical device. Some common softphones are RingCentral, Avaya Communicator, Zoom, and Microsoft Teams, to name a few.
You’ll use your softphone via an app, provided through your VoIP provider, or by logging online through your browser, such as Google Chrome. It utilizes that internet calling technology, which means that you can use it to make calls any time you have a stable WiFi connection. Because of this, you’ll have full ability to call like you would using an analog device (like a desk phone) and have the freedom to do it wherever there’s an internet connection.
In short, a softphone is an app or browser login, and it’s different from VoIP, but it requires VoIP technology in order to operate.
If my headset connects to my computer, will it connect to my softphone?
Usually, but not always. Your softphone is its own independent thing. Even though your headset can connect to your computer, syncing directly with your softphone is a separate task.
Let’s say, for instance, that you’re using Zoom to make a call from your computer. You want to be able to press the “end call” button on your headset to leave the Zoom meeting. Since the “Leave Meeting” button is a function of Zoom and not of your computer itself, your headset needs to have an understanding of Zoom’s software in addition to your computer’s.
You can think of it like speaking languages. Your computer only speaks Computerish. Zoom only speaks Zoomish. If your headset only speaks Computerish, it’ll be able to control things like the computer’s volume, but it's not going to be able to talk to Zoom. If you want to be able to pick up and end the Zoom call directly from your headset, the headset will need to communicate in Zoomish to say, “This is my ‘end call’ button! When it’s pressed, that’s the same as someone clicking ‘Leave Meeting.’” Therefore, to get full softphone headset functionality, your headset needs to speak Computerish and Zoomish.
When you’re looking at buying a headset for VoIP phone systems, you should be able to find information about its compatibility (what devices and apps it can speak to) in the product listing. Depending on the site, you’ll have to check different places, but we recommend looking for sections like “Technical Specifications,” “Compatibility,” or “Certifications.” In general, USB headsets (wireless or corded headsets that come with a USB cord), will work with any computer with available USB ports, so those will be your best bet.
Oftentimes, a VoIP phone headset will work with your softphone but doesn't have the added functionality of being able to answer or hang up remotely. Even in these cases, you will still be able to use the USB headset with the softphone, you will just have to be at the computer to answer the phone, so if this is an issue, make sure you’re clear on compatibility so you get exactly what your company needs. If you’re buying from Headsets.com and aren’t sure if your softphone will be compatible, call our Headset Advisors at 1-800-HEADSETS (432-3738) for some extra guidance.
What are the best headsets for softphones?
First and foremost, you’ll need a VoIP phone headset that can connect to whatever device(s) you’ll use to access your softphone. A headset that only connects to desk phones isn’t going to cut it.
There are corded softphone headset options out there that can connect to computers, phones, and tablets. However, these aren’t the most efficient option if you plan on accessing your softphone from more than one device. Technically, it’s possible; you can find adapters that will allow connection between one plug and multiple types of ports. But having to switch adapters each time you switch devices can be tedious.
It is possible to have a corded headset with Bluetooth capabilities. However, even when you find a device like that, it’s generally limited to pairing only with smartphones. That’s why we recommend wireless headsets for softphone use.
Wireless devices are great if you’re trying to avoid adapters. They also allow for mobility, which is one of the exciting things about using a softphone in the first place. Still, not every wireless headset is softphone compatible, so check out those tech specs before you buy.
For maximum softphone headset functionality, we recommend a wireless headset with Bluetooth capabilities. Bluetooth is a type of wireless technology that can “trust” multiple devices at once. Therefore, if you’ve Bluetooth-synced both your cell phone and your computer to your softphone headset, switching between them can be as simple as clicking a button; no need to disconnect one and pair the other.
To boil it down:
- Corded headsets are an option for use with softphones, but they’re not convenient when you’re switching between devices.
- Wireless headsets don’t require adapters to switch between devices, so they’re less clunky, and they allow you to move around.
Bluetooth-enabled wireless headsets will allow for the quickest transition between devices, so if you’ve got your softphone app on a phone, tablet, and computer, this one’s for you.
- No matter the headset’s configuration, check the description or call a Headset Advisor to see if the model you're looking at is compatible with your softphone.
So what are some of my options?
At Headsets.com, we carry a variety of products that are fully compatible with over 99% of softphones. Your options are:
Every wireless Leitner headset - with or without Bluetooth capabilities - is compatible with, well, pretty much everything. If you navigate to the “Compatibility” tab under the picture in a Leitner product listing, you’ll see the logos of some of the brands that connect seamlessly to the headsets. It’s not a comprehensive list, so if you don’t see your softphone brand listed, reach out! Our Headset Advisors - available at 1-800-HEADSETS (432-3738) - are happy to clarify.
As long as you’re using a PC or Mac operating system, you should be good to go with this Sennheiser model. It promises 100% softphone compatibility for those two OS types. Even though this model isn't Bluetooth compatible, you’ll still be connected to your softphone, no matter the brand.
This headset connects with pretty much any softphone with help from the Jabra Direct app. You can even pair it with multiple softphones at once!
Wrapping it up
If you’re in the market for a VoIP phone headset to use with your softphone, make sure to do some research to confirm that the model you’re looking at is fully compatible. There’s no cut-and-dry rule that states that all headsets with X configuration and Y functionality will work with your softphone. A device is not guaranteed to work with your softphone just because it’s wireless, and you can’t rule one out just because it’s corded.
In a sentence, the best softphone headset to go with your softphone totally depends on the devices you use and the softphone plan you have!
What’s most important is to listen to your needs and pick a softphone headset that is both compatible and practical for your everyday work use. If you’d like to chat with a Headset Advisor who will help you evaluate your options, call 1-800-HEADSETS (432-3738) or email firstname.lastname@example.org.